The HC has recommended criminal contempt proceedings against Collector Venkatrami Reddy after a video of his remarks went viral last week.

Telangana High CourtWikimedia Commons/Chiranjeevi Anisetti
news Court Wednesday, November 03, 2021 - 09:19

The Telangana High Court on Tuesday, November 2, asked if the state had enlisted paddy under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) list, while questioning the behaviour of  Siddipet Collector P Venkatrami Reddy who had threatened seed dealers and farmers against growing paddy in the district. A week ago, the Collector was caught on camera threatening seed dealers of seizing their stores if they were found selling paddy in the district, against the state government’s direction. The bureaucrat went on to say that even the Supreme Court or High Court would not be able to reopen their stores.  

The court was hearing a plea filed by Bathula Narayana, a farmer from Imamabad village in Siddipet district. The bench of Justice T Vinod Kumar came down heavily on the Collector, and recommended criminal contempt proceedings against him. “As this bench lacks jurisdiction to deal with criminal contempt, the Registry is directed to place this writ petition before the Chief Justice bench,” Justice Vinod Kumar was quoted as saying by The New Indian Express. The court also questioned if the Collector thought that he was above the law. 

“There are about 350 dealer shops in this jurisdiction. Even if one kilo of paddy sale is noted in any of the dealer shops, the shop would be closed or seized. Even if you get orders from the Supreme Court or High Court or get calls from public representatives for shops to reopen, it won't work. The shop will remain closed until I am a Collector here. And the concerned agriculture officer or other officers in that area will also be suspended,” the Collector had threatened at a meeting with the seed dealers. 

The same was quoted before the bench, following which Advocate General BS Prasad clarified that the state has not banned the sale of paddy. According to The Times of India, the AG assured that nobody would be harassed or penalised for selling paddy seeds.

The Telangana government has been urging farmers to shift to alternate crops besides paddy. The state government has urged farmers to grow groundnut, sesame, caster, bajra, bengal gram and others instead of paddy, as the Food Corporation of India has decided not to procure paddy. In this regard, all the District Collectors have held meetings with officials and seed dealers to discuss alternate crops. The move is part of a wider goal by the Telangana government to implement a crop regulation system, which would dictate what crops should be grown in the state, in a bid to make agriculture sustainable.

 
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